Thursday, May 31, 2012

Steel drum bands, loco for pan

If upstate New York is good for one thing, it's suns disappearing among rolling hills.
Isn't that the only reason people come to Geneseo? That damn sunset is on the cover of every admissions brochure. But so are students laughing in the sunlight and carrying backpacks over one shoulder, so I really don't know what's accurate these days.
I see this view every day when I drive home from work.
Yes, I stopped the car to take a picture.
I made sure absolutely no one was coming and right when I stepped out of the car, another fucking car came.
I was pissed and embarrassed.

On another note, I may or may not have joined a steel drum band this week.

 They go by this name - Panloco - that they paid extra money to have as their license plate number. Imagine getting a public overhead announcement that your van lights were still on while at T.G.I. Friday's? 
The word "Panloco" I've heard, literally means "crazy bread." Now, I'm not sure if that's the name of a mythological trickster in an ancient Trinidadian (steel drums originate in Trinidad, also the birthplace of Nicki Minaj) legend who steals all the bread or food or something but then gets his ass kicked by the fable hero or if these people just thought the word "Panloco" sounded great and somewhat cultural.  Either way, I'm a beginning/training member now along with friends Nicole Rahn and Herb Susmann.
For those who are wondering, steel drums look like that guy over there. But it's their distinct sound that makes you want to light up some doobies, hit up the bong and smoke your way into a reefer madness on a sandy white beach with no one in sight. That is, unless you want people in sight, but personally, I pictured my hazy paradise to be solo. But that's not why I'm joining Panloco. I'm taking up steel drums because I want to immerse myself in a musical culture in my community in which I can engage myself with others in an environment that fosters creativity and musicality.
Still don't know what sounds these glorious instruments produce? Here's a YouTube clip. Note the sandy white beach background.

Tell me that's not awesome. I think I'm bringing in pina colada mix and tequila for the whole gang next week. Virgin, of course. I am under 21 and the rehearsals take place in a church basement. Maybe wine would be better.

So the first rehearsal we played "Imagine" by John Lennon ("You know it, right?" is what they said) and Ted (Tim? Nicole, help me out here) threw us right onto the parts and made sure to linger over our shoulders when we were playing. That's a great strategy for making someone feel confident and sure of themselves. AKA I felt like I always do when I try something for the first time: incompetent and out of place. 

The sticks fumbled in my hands as Tim (Ted?) repeated notes over and over again. Then he had to clap the rhythm for me. Then he had to take my sticks and play the notes for me as I stood behind him like a troll trying to work a sewing machine. Of course, everyone there watched with sympathetic eyes. God. Takes me back to my attempts at crafts in Girl Scouts. My ornaments still hang pathetically on our tree: broken popsicle sticks, sloppily-glued googily eyes, crumbling styrofoam snowmen, you name it, I clumsily made it.

I've played piano for a big chunk of my life - 14 or so years - so notes and rhythms are nothing new. But when people linger like he did, I just forget everything I know, including my name. Thank god he didn't ask for that information at the time.

In spite of that, I got the hang of these musical garbage pans after a while.  I'm not a master but I can say that Tim-Ted gave all of us a round of enthusiastic compliments. Not sure if that's because he wants our $25 dues or if he actually sees a twinkle of steel drum potential in our eyes. Probably the former, but we're all human, right?

Steel drum bands also sport some flashy garb, like these shirts and hats:

Now I'm not saying I'm only in this for the clothing.

But I am.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A(n) homage to all aspiring, current and retired engineers

There's a certain occupation that never struck me as appealing in any way. And by appealing, I mean that I shy away from pursuit because I feel like I'm too dumb to even express feelings toward choosing that career path. It would be laughable, even, for me to consider going in that direction and my life would turn into a mockery of events, similar to Elle Woods in Legally Blonde; but I wouldn't give a speech at the end because I would have dropped out by then because that movie isn't real and won't ever be.

But I watch it anyway and I catch it every time it's on TBS.

So what employment choice, you ask, do I find least appealing? Not doctor nor lawyer nor POTUS. Toll booth worker, nah, janitor, nope.

Engineers. You knew that from the title of this post, didn't you? Damn.
Note to self: refrain from doing stupid things anymore.

But either way, yes, I said it. Engineers.

Freeze the face you have right now and quick run to the mirror. Or pull up Photobooth or something because you all have Macs. What do you see? Fearful eyes? Natural cringing? Good, because those are all common side effects of hearing the word. En - gin - eer.

Personally, my face falls into a look of disgust and my head goes into my neck like a turtle and my one chin turns into four. Are you picturing that? I probably didn't describe that accurately enough. Here's an example.

When kids and adults tell me that they're majoring or have a job in chemical, biomedical, metaphysicalwhackjob engineering, I ask them in the kindest way - pleading for an answer with tears streaming down my face - why they chose to do it. "You're fucking crazy," I say, as they chuckle and think of our income comparison ten years from now.

But why do I feel this way? I know a lot of business administration majors, too. But I guess it's a different sort of disgust.

Just kidding.

Maybe I'm not partial to engineering because I have no idea what these men and women do. Does anyone know? Like, yeah, an engineer, train conductor donchyaknow?

But seriously, if anyone can picture an engineer between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on a weekday, please describe this image to me because I draw a blank every time I try to picture the office and tasks of an engineer. It's such a....vague... thing.
Do they draw pictures? Do they talk on the phone? Is it paid by commission? Do they sit on thrones around a giant marble table lined with gold as they sip mead from goblets and eat without silverware? Or is that just me when I go to Medieval Times restaurant.

I Googled the word a short while (30 seconds) ago and my trusty Wikipedia page gave me this: "An engineer is a professional practitioner of engineering, concerned with applying scientific knowledge, mathematics and ingenuity to develop solutions for technical problems." Ok.

First of all, Wikipedia, please - in the future - refrain from using the word in the definition. That shit drives me and everyone else nuts. Practitioner of engineering? Seriously? That gets me nowhere in my quest for this answer. The site goes on to indicate the word's origins: Latin roots ingeniare (to contrive, devise) and ingenium (cleverness).

Of course. Contrivers of cleverness? Only a few people can contrive cleverness: Witches, wizards and Jack Black. Don't believe me? Watch Year One. Mind-blowing.

I also Yahoo! Answered it, which tends to be pretty reliable, IMO (in my opinion). Here's what I got: Q: What do Engineers do? Top voted answer: There is no specific answer. wtf! Is anyone else suspicious about the activity of this Jimmy Neutron-like folk?

I happen to know an engineer myself. Want to know what I think he does all day? Magic tricks. Magic tricks and dark sorcery. He goes by the name of Doug. Doug, a friend of my mom's, has the most knowledge out of anyone I know and anyone you probably know. He is Wikipedia and college and sorcery and research and Jeopardy! all rolled up together in one giant burrito engineered to produce satisfaction for everyone.
With more free-range and all-natural, organic, GMO-free, fair trade, grass-fed ingredients than Chipotle will ever claim to have, this burrito is an engineer.

Doug is currently making plans for a new lake house, he built the house he lives in right now, he can read books and he can cook a mean, meaaaaaaan pasta shrimp salad.
So what's my point?
This dude, knows everything.
I'll prove it:

He may have acquired his vast knowledge of everything in the world (and beyond) from these small books.
Library of Universal Knowledge, eh?
What do you think? Human, or ALIEN?

That top one was the biggest indicator of the serious ingenuity of engineers.
The second one too.
And the third. I think Doug single-handedly started Occupy and then backed out once it started getting a bad rep.
Classic move.

Yes, that is a picture of me as a child.
No I did not read Small Antennas. It's in my GoodReads queue, though.

So he has a lot of books. But that can only get a man (or woman, don't attack me) so far. He needs proof that he read these books, or else there's a waste of knowledge in his brain. You know, like, if you don't use it, you'll lose it? Hehe.
Well he sure didn't lose it! He probably used those dictionaries of knowledge and alien power some instruction manuals to build this lean-to right in his own sideyard! Seriously, he built this with his bare hands! There's even Wi-Fi and a speaker system inside and yes, the speaker system blends in with the wood. Rustic.
Tell me the first 800 things you do in your spare time. If "building lean-to" is in there, then you might find yourself suited for a job in engineering.

That on the right?
Me, weeping, knowing that I won't ever have the power to build anything like this. My life will never mimic that of an engineer. I will forever be indebted to plumbers, contractors, architects and husbands. Probably not the last one though.

 Just some toys in the basement.
This is your old Barbie Dream House would be. 

Hey what are you doing today? 
Not much, just playin' with sound waves!

What's the point of this post? I still don't know what engineers do and I'm still miserable because I will never be able to build a pond in my backyard unless the men (and women) from Lowe's help me.

I'll just keep working on that nifty liberal arts degree while I continue to tell myself that everything will be just fine.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Tell me what it means "to be young."

ALERT: This post will sound be douchey and pretentious! But I think that's what blogs are for, right? Because everyone - don't even try to argue with me - is douchey and pretentious. Even your parents and priests. Imagine that.

I drove home from work last night and fun.'s "We Are Young" came on one of the six radio stations offered in this bum-eff area. Strong language, I'm sorry.
The lush fields are nice though. Paired with the rich, natural smell of manure it's like a free trip to the zoo. Minus the animals and elephants that can paint.

But sassy nature rants aside, this anthem of our youth came on and I naturally sang along. No, I naturally fucking BELTED IT OUT.**

** side note: I work at a very small hospital in a very small town. (picture population: 4,719) where I answer phones behind a large and lonely desk for five hours with minimal human interaction. Given that, it could be concluded that my  post-work energy and adrenaline rush that pulsated through my blood had a direct effect on my driving and belting.
That, and the fact that I'm just young, you know?!

Right when I hear that taiko drum, or whatever, introduction, I'm just like oh helllllllllll yeah. Hell yeah. Guys, it's about to get real. I don't even feel guilty about it either, you know, like when people secretly like a song and they're afraid to say it because everyone else likes it too? It's a song, people. You can judge me if I secretly support seal clubbing. But I don't. I swear.

So I'm going about 85 through the hills of Wayland, N.Y., screaming. Screaming, heaving my words out, only turning it down when I come to a red light in a village with a restaurant where diners are sitting outside. That's when I picked my dignity up off of the floor, rolled up the windows and turned the volume down to a dull roar.

But this song, and so many others, I think is the sole reason why our generation is h8d on. That, and the fact that we use letter-number combinations to abbreviate things. Apparently it means we're lazy; I think it's genius and innovative. They think our reading and writing skills are depleting. B.S.

So what does it mean to be young, and are we all on the same page with fun., Wiz Khalifa (So what we get drunk? So what, we smoke weed!? Livin' young, and wild, and free!), Alphaville (It's so hard to get old without a cause. I don't want to perish like the fading horse) and Madonna (Touched for the very first time)?
Maybe that last one is a little too young. But I can't speak for everyone, I know that, and I know that my large fan base has a wide age range.

But these songs almost sound like we feel the need to stand up for ourselves, don't they? My friend, Katy Boland, and I had this discussion before about the defensive tone of these songs and how they're like a backlash against some sort of reprimanding we've received. I, personally, have not experienced this sort of punishment, have you?

fun. is saying that our lives are really really hard - for them it seems like a post-breakup song, at least that's what the verses indicate - and if we want to let loose and forget about all of our hardships, then we will. And no one can stop us, because we're young. And someone will be there to pick up our slack if we want to fuck up, and we "feel like falling down."

Wiz, well, that's pretty self-explanatory I think. The whole "so what" thing basically is him being like, say what you want bitches, I'm young. Ok. This particular song, I think, might be the bane of my existence. The bridge is my favorite: "Yeah, roll one, smoke one. When you live like this you're supposed to party. Roll one, smoke one, and we all just having fun."

Alphaville, I don't know, 1984? Then both the O.C. and One Tree Hill? Need I say more? Young folks complainin' s'all. But I can't insult these German dudes. They re-released "Forever Young" like, 19 times. That's determination right there.

From these songs - and so many others - it's obvious that we've been so, so, sooooooooooooooo oppressed that now we're all like IDGAF Mom, Dad and cops, last time I checked, I was young AND wild AND free and you were what, fifty fucking four? Yeah, that's what I thought. Go back to playing bocce ball and whatever the hell you do and let me be young. BTW lend me forty bucks? Gotta buy new textbooks three handles of Odesse.

We're saying that we're still young, so we will use that to our advantage to spend your money and party like a rebel without a cause. (heh).
My skin is not sallow and my breasts do not sag, and if by the time the bar closes, and I feel like falling down, you will fucking carry me home tonight for those reasons.

fun. even threw in a background choir of small children just to add to the whole young effect. God help the first seven-year-old to wear a bandeau and a crop top. We'll all read about it on Yahoo!.

Maybe, just maybe, I am an asshole. But just because I'm young doesn't mean that I need to stand up for myself. I will rid myself of the stigma that accompanies my age and I will present myself in a mature and positive fashion that will enrich my environment and those around me. As I develop and grow, I will improve as an able-member of the society in which I live and I will work to make an impact on the world, one community service hour at a time.

Does it count of the community service hours are a requirement after being arrested for public intoxication?
What? I'm only 20.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wegmans. Need I say more?

Before I say anything, Imma say one thing: If I'm ever forced to be in one place for the rest of my life and that place happened to be Wegmans, I think I would be okay with that. I think I could survive.

I love Wegmans and everything about it. Every aisle, every olive at the Mediterranean Bar, every beer in the 40 section and every single old-fashioned sub shop option. Every Brazil nut and alphabet-shaped gummi in the bulk section, every giant cupcake in the bakery, every single Asian man who smiles at be from behind the sushi bar.
What is it about this place that makes people want to go grocery shopping? Why are they enjoying their time here? It's a grocery store! But Danny (Wegman) and every other man and woman up high in the Wegman hierarchy makes sure to provide us with a stress-free and comfortable environment; neither of which describe the usual mood of a grocery store, but they do it nonetheless.

It's a warehouse-store experience like no other. Workers stand behind mini vendors with free samples of Wegmans food and shoppers save money almost every time they make a purchase with the Wegmans shoppers club card. Workers slap a gratifying smile on their face, whether they want to or not, and all - or most - hostility is eliminated. People go bat shit wild for this kind of stuff, and Wegmans knows it.

And I like that. They know what I want and they know I'll pay them for it. They're good, I'll give them that.

So lunch is Wegmans salad bar today and this giant lemonade that I drank right out of the container, only to look up and see some frightened men and women staring at my savage consumption. I gave them an apologetic look, only after taking a few more swigs of the 99-cent carton.

Nom nom nom.
I kind of hate when people take pictures of their food and put it on the Internet.
But I think this is different. Tell me it's different.
People were looking at me after I took this picture so I quickly put away my camera and shoved it in my backpack.

Pictures of couches in The Lamron office.

I couldn't stay away. I have an addiction to newsprint I think. That, and the fact that I have to produce an 8-page issue in the next two days, has dragged me back to Geneseo. It's even more quiet in the summer and it's almost surreal.
The ghosts of frat boys haunt me. Oh wait, that's real frat boys.

So for those who don't know, that image up there is a big stack of Lamrons!
What's a Lamron, you ask? Certainly they don't roam free. It's SUNY Geneseo's student-run weekly campus newspaper. And guess who's presiding over that fine 3000 print publication next year?

Yeah, me. Well, me and a wonderful 16 or 17 (18?) member eboard. We're news people. Gossip's our thang.

And now, with many thanks to outgoing Managing Editor and future Newhouse School of Journalism at Syracuse University student (long-ass title right there. Worth it though, worth it) Megan Paolone, we have a friend for our tattered and sexed-on Orange Couch!
And although the Orange Couch is a solid representation of us at The Lamron (tattered, sexed-on), we feel that our new striped friend will fit in just fine.
There she is below.

 I'd sit on that couch.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Floridaze. I'm in one.

I failed. Like I said below: I love starting stuff up and stopping! It's only the thrill of quitting that keeps me motivated in life. I'm working on it and every day is a challenge.

So I missed one day. I promise it won't happen again. It's not like we're dating; it's a casual thing, isn't it? We didn't say we were anything. So why is this blog putting more pressure on me than a relationship? We just started texting, like, three days ago.

I think things are moving too fast.

On a lighter note, we're home from Florida! After four plane rides, diarrhea-inducing airport food - reheated sandwiches and peanut butter cup cheesecake - and long arduous walks through giant airports carrying a suitcase without a shoulder strap or wheels, (Picture a briefcase, but eight times heavier, hence my sore triceps today) we're home. As I looked down out of the airplane and saw Transit Road in Clarence, N.Y. and all of its fine offerings from chain restaurants to movie theaters to car dealerships and my heart sort of sank into desolation next to Sky magazine in the seat caddy in front of me.

What will I miss most about Florida? Being the youngest person in an 18-mile radius. Unlimited trail mix. Air conditioning.
That was the best part. Being in air conditioning and knowing it's sweltering hot outside. It's a safe feeling. Comfortable, too. Try it some time.

Nothing beats a good sunset. Literally, you'll never beat the sun.
But the ends of sunsets are always awkward. It goes down and we're looking at nothing, and we're cold.
Like "getting lunch." What happens when "lunch" is over? Who leaves first?

Jeanine (mom) at the Hibachi restaurant.
Is every artiste d'Hibachi trained to make the onion pyramid and fill it with flames?
And that spinny thing with the eggs? That too? Guess it's all part of show-business.


Me. Myself. Yes, it's me. Waiting for brick-oven pizza, looking phly as ever. 
Yes, I spelled fly with a "ph."
The workers here were Italian; at least that's what they wanted us to think.
Why is it that every time an Italian man talks to me - which is once every six years - I feel like I'm being courted? Maybe it's the pointy shoes, I don't know. Their pointy shoes, I mean. I don't own any.

Our villa. This whole thing. Nice, isn't it?
No I'm just kidding, it's a building of condos!

Emily (sissy) and I at the Crow's Nest Restaurant, where us gals ordered not one, not two, but three appetizers!
Ate 'em up, we did. Then hated ourselves for the rest of the night.
Just kidding.

So that's our trip in six photos. But if we're going by that "photo is worth a thousand words" rule, then there's a nice miniature dissertation on my trip to Florida.
If only papers were that easy.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Where am I now?

Buuuuuuuut, not Italy. I can only dream of being in Italy right now. Although, I guess it's not very economically sound to be situated in Europe right now... that whole Greece thing is a sensitive topic.

Alas, I am in Venice, Fla. where the median age is 62 and the mean is 64 and 3 months. The speed limit is 25 almost everywhere, but it peaks at 45 on the main drag.
The main drag, to clarify, consists of a nail salon and various "sweet" shops and beachwear boutiques. Apparently retirement is all that it's cracked out to be. Can't. Wait.
But by the time my "retirement" rolls around, my 401(k) will be, well, probably nonexistent, and social security will be dried up.
Baby boomers... God love 'em.

But guess who forgot the cord for her camera?
Yeah, this dumbass.

So here's a lovely map from Google Images that shows exactly where I am right now!
See me? I'm in the red.

So we're on the gulf.
I don't think I swam through any oil.

After 20 years of dealing with skin the color of milk, you'd think I wouldn't go outside unless I had a thick coating of sunscreen on every inch of my bare skin; every year, however, I seem to forget the painful repercussions of my uncovered flesh and its exposure to the sun. Every. Year.
So I have a sunburn. And it's gross and painful. My skin feels like it does when I rip off Band-Aids. But this was a giant Band-Aid, and it covered my whole body. Now it's gone and I'm red. Showers are painful and they shouldn't be.

Not to mention I look like the Coppertone baby.

If you want to further experience how I feel today, set your body on fire. Then call me.
You'll see what I'm saying. I guess SPF 100 wasn't good enough. That shit will come back to haunt me in my 40s, I know it.

This shit will barely get me through the end of May. Why am I cursed with this skin?

It's time.

Yes, folks. Summer is here. To force myself to do something productive, I will blog every single experience -- no matter how minuscule -- I have.
That includes bathroom trips, naps and illegal activities. Possibly both at the same time. I might as well just do a live streaming of my life - I'll give you my Facebook, Gmail and Goodreads passwords - but I figured blogging is somewhat of a norm these days, so I might as well jump on that bandwagon to make it easier for everyone else.
But we'll see how long this lasts; hopefully it won't turn into the classic, motivatd post every day for three days, then a meager post once a week, then the old "last login: eight months ago" as tumbleweed floats across the home page.
I can only hope that doesn't happen. I kind of judge people when that happens...

No promises here, though. I'm a huge fan of starting shit up and then stopping.

Read this blog, it will inspire me to keep going.
I will post pictures and words of friends, family, adventures, college, books, food, pizza, internships, food, newspapers, vegetables and food.

And cats. Like this one: Tiny.